Thursday, 15 May 2008
What are these 'works' on the account of which the disciples are able to believe that Jesus is in the Father and visa versa? Verse 10 above seems to link Jesus' words with God's work; 'The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.' Are these works, including those which the disciples will be able to perform to a greater extent (verse 12), all to do with words, God's word achieving His work, or are they to be understood as works/actions? I think that these verses may have been used to give weight to the arguament that the church now should be performing signs and wonders greater than Jesus', so how do we understand what the works are that we should be doing?
Looking back through John at where works are mentioned previously (references obtained from reading Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis) can help to define what John means when he says 'works'. John 5:20-21 seems to link the works that the Father reveals to the Son with the life giving salvation Jesus brings; 'For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.' So here perhaps the work of God in Father and Son is to give life. These are the greater works (greater than what I haven't looked into...I'm assuming greater than the miracles previously worked). And I've just notices 5:17 - more references to God working. Maybe in a different sense, I don't know. I hope so because I haven't time to look into that.
In John 6:28-35 has more about God's works. Jesus says that the work of God is that people should believe in him, Jesus, the one sent, who is the true life giving bread of God; 'Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God,that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.'
So there seems to be alot about God's work being to give life to people through Jesus. And this makes sense of 14:10 where Jesus' words are linked with God's work, as Jesus through his words is explaining about the life that can be gained by belief in him. Does that answer what the 'works themselves' 14:11 are? Could Jesus say 'believe me...or believe on account of the words I say' or is that not just saying the same thing because the reason they would believe him in the first instance would be because of his words. Or could it mean 'believe me...or believe on account of the work that God has done in giving life to people through me' or would that not make sense being before his death and resurrection when the disciples didn't really get what was going on.
I don't know. Maybe there is an easy answer I have missed, or maybe I've taken things horribly out of context. I've read it suggested that the 'works' of God are (as above) Him working through His word, and that is what I assumed to be the meaning, but just now I don't quite see how verse 11 fits in with that. Someone help!
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
Is there anybody out there?
A question that could just as well be applied to the quest of humans, searching for the meaning to their short, insignificant lives. Is there anything or anyone out there to bring some meaning to life? Because really, if there isn't, I'd quite like to stop now, thank you very much. Although life can be pleasant and fun sometimes, the sadness, disappointment and boredom of other times outweighs those positives, and if there is no meaning to my existence then I'd quite like to just stop here and go no further.
The question to the meaning of life is answered by many people in a variety of ways. Meaning and purpose are gained through family//friends//work//ambition//success//fame//love//status
//money//fun//spider solitare...(just me then). But really, at the end of it all, what do these things gain a person. All the love, fame and money in the world will not solve the one problem common to all mankind, death - the one obstacle that cannot be skirted. It cannot be bribed with money, intimidated by status, overcome with friends or laughed at in enjoyment. It remains. The final punctuation on a life. The ultimate statistic, 1 out of 1 people die. It cuts off a life from its neighbours leaving only a memory, a poor reflection of a character, soon forgotten, however high a level in the fame game has been reached. A cheery thought for 1.20 in the morning.
//Choice-continue to live with some aim or realize that without an aim life is meaningless and might as well not be//
However, I will go on (and hope that you will too). There is a written account of a man who lived over 2000 years ago who too wrestled with this question of life’s meaning. He was a man who had excelled in human terms, was rich, clever, and powerful (possibly a king). He had time to spare to put his mind to the question of why he was alive. In pursuit of purpose he allowed himself any pleasure he should desire, food, drink, sex, accomplishing grand projects, enjoying nature, amassing great wealth and enjoying his power. What more could a human want-riches, pleasure, fame and security? But after indulging in these things this great thinker came to the conclusion that ‘everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind’ and that nothing had been gained by them. Next he tried exercising his wisdom but realised that although it is better to be a wise man than a fool, the same fate overcomes them both - death. So why be wise, it gains nothing?
People often live to make the world a better place for those after them, or those in worse conditions than wealthy westerners, a decent aim to be sure, and one that appears to give fulfillment. But does it gain anything more than someone who lives a selfish life giving no thought to fellow man? No, both end for each individual in death. So although ‘doing good things’ are undoubtedly…good, they don’t gain YOU anything. (And if all we are is a product of evolutionary selection, we should selfishly be desiring our own good anyway.)
Logically, without a meaning to life, there is no reason to live it. Arguably apparent lack of meaning does not necessarily suggest that there is meaning to be found. Maybe we are just to amble along, trying to live ‘good’ lives and enjoy it while we can, but to me that’s not enough, and if that is all there is then what’s the point? But why don’t we come to this conclusion and decide to end life more often//why are we still here struggling through sad times and hard times just to reach old age and let nature do for us what we could do and save ourselves the grief?
Again this over 2000 years ago guy has some thoughts on this. Looking around him at the world and his life he saw that everything was meaningless. ‘”Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”’. But he also saw that there are some things in life that are better than others, he noted that it is better to work than not to, and it is better to be wise than to be a fool. There is apparent order and meaning to life. We see it and that is why we don’t just end life- we see that there are some good things, some things more meaningful than others and that there must be some meaning.
Have you found that meaning? What is it that you are living for and will it gain you anything in the long run? Take a moment to forget about things of triviality and think on the big question because there really isn’t anything more important.
The author of the book of Wisdom concluded that there is nothing meaningful under the sun, on earth, in the absence of God no meaning can be found. But there are signs of meaning ‘above’ the sun, there are fingerprints of a creator God on life. Read the book, it’s short, fantastic, and ruthlessly honest. It’s called Ecclesiastes and is in the Bible. Search for meaning, ask 'is there anybody out there' and let me know what you think. I think yes.
Wednesday, 26 April 2006
Friday, 10 February 2006